While obesity is typically attributed to over eating and a lack of exercise, researchers at Kings College London have identified a type of gut bacteria, called Christensenellacae, which influences a person’s genetic makeup and body weight. The study focused on fecal samples from 416 pairs of twins. Of these participants, identical twins had a larger abundance of the gene microbe than fraternal twins suggesting that the bacteria is highly heritable. Furthermore, researchers found that Christensenallacae is most common in the intestines of lean people and in experiments with mice they determined that this microbe alone promoted thinner mice. Thus far, research results suggest that a person’s genes influence his body weight by determining the types of bacteria that live in his intestines and that altering the Christensenallacae population could have a direct impact on his susceptibility to obesity. This research gives a very important window into the study of obesity prevention and gut microbes. Although the information is groundbreaking, further studies need to be conducted to determine if altering levels of this gut microbe is actually effective.
As researchers continue to expand their study, how do you think this discovery will be used in the future to combat obesity?